China has more millionaires than France

Posted by: Frederik Balfour on July 2, 2008

Ooh la la! According to the 2008 Merrill Lynch and Capgemini World Wealth Report China now boasts more millionaires than France. At the end of last year China weighed in with a total of 414,900 people worth more than one million dollars excluding their principal residence, while France had only 394,000 of this group. China is now only behind the U.S., Japan, Germany and Britain in terms of High Net Worth Individuals, or HNWIs as the study calls them.

The way things are going, China could easily bump the U.K. from the number four slot soon. Last year the number of millionaires grew by an eye popping 20.3%, while Britain, with 495,000 HNWIs, saw their numbers grow by only 2.1%. India is also rising fast, minting 22.7% more millionaires last year for a total of 123,000.

This is obviously good news for private bankers who have been beefing up their presence in Asia. But you can bet they are being extra careful about who they sign up, considering the kind of hot water UBS has recently found itself over allegations it helped its wealthy clients evade U.S. taxes.

Okay. In a previous blog about the rich and super rich I promised to give you the skinny on how the fat wallet crowd enjoys its wealth. While I am well placed to give you anecdotal evidence from Hong Kong, the city that thrives on conspicuous consumption (see my BusinessWeek.com story about Coach), I will defer to the experts and share some more of Capgemini’s insights with you.

According to their breakdown of “passion dollars”, not only are they rich different from you and me, they are also different from one another. Old money, of course, behaves quite differently from new money, a rule that applies no matter where you are in world, Capgemini’s CEO of Consulting Technology Outsourcing Aurore Saglio-Thébault, tells me. That helps explain why the rich in Europe, that bastion of old-money, append 22% of their passion dollars on art collections, while Asia Pacific only spends 16%. Not surprisingly, Asians spend 19% on jewelry, gems and watches, while North Americans only spend 11%.

Asians also are big spenders on wellness, accounting for 14% of their passion dollars. That includes in home spas and massages. Maybe they need more pampering because they have to walk around draped in all that heavy jewelry. By contrast, Latin Americans only spend 7% in the same category.

When it comes to luxury collectibles, including rare automobiles, private jets and yachts, it pretty much doesn’t matter where you come from. Rich boys spend about 16% of their money on such toys.

Reader Comments

Dan

July 3, 2008 9:24 AM

It was just a matter of time. The Chinese work twice as hard as the French. And China has about 25 people to every Frenchman. France is a small multicultural, selfconscious, socialist country. China will be one of the most powerful and wealthiest countries in the world in the next few decades, as Europe gets smaller, less wealthy and more riots.

american

July 3, 2008 8:02 PM

Wow! China is great!

DavidKing

July 8, 2008 12:49 PM

I do not know on what Dan's comment about more riots in Europe is based.

China has multiple riots on daily basis.
Most of riots are not reported or known by western media.

Just past week, 30,000 citizens ransacked, burned down government building in protesting a cover-up of rape/murder by officials to protect the suspect with tie to police.

Regarding the economic growth, I am amazed that people can simply do a straight-line projection of China's future economic growth with taking into account the cost of it.

China has been destructing its environment in order to achieve so-called economic miracle.

While some urban residents become richer, many are left behind. Chinese government's policy is basically abandoning rural areas in support of major cities.

Most of county-level governments are bankrupt but are able to borrow money from state-controlled banks to survive.

China's so-called economic growth mostly based on cheap labor, highly polluted industry is not sustainable.

Cancer rate is skyrocketing. Water resource is drying up. More and more college graduates cannot find jobs.

I can go on and on ...

DavidKing

July 8, 2008 12:49 PM

I do not know on what Dan's comment about more riots in Europe is based.

China has multiple riots on daily basis.
Most of riots are not reported or known by western media.

Just past week, 30,000 citizens ransacked, burned down government building in protesting a cover-up of rape/murder by officials to protect the suspect with tie to police.

Regarding the economic growth, I am amazed that people can simply do a straight-line projection of China's future economic growth with taking into account the cost of it.

China has been destructing its environment in order to achieve so-called economic miracle.

While some urban residents become richer, many are left behind. Chinese government's policy is basically abandoning rural areas in support of major cities.

Most of county-level governments are bankrupt but are able to borrow money from state-controlled banks to survive.

China's so-called economic growth mostly based on cheap labor, highly polluted industry is not sustainable.

Cancer rate is skyrocketing. Water resource is drying up. More and more college graduates cannot find jobs.

I can go on and on ...

DavidKing

July 8, 2008 1:58 PM

I do not know on what Dan's comment about more riots in Europe is based.

China has multiple riots on daily basis.
Most of riots are not reported or known by western media.

Just past week, 30,000 citizens ransacked, burned down government building in protesting a cover-up of rape/murder by officials to protect the suspect with tie to police.

Regarding the economic growth, I am amazed that people can simply do a straight-line projection of China's future economic growth with taking into account the cost of it.

China has been destructing its environment in order to achieve so-called economic miracle.

While some urban residents become richer, many are left behind. Chinese government's policy is basically abandoning rural areas in support of major cities.

Most of county-level governments are bankrupt but are able to borrow money from state-controlled banks to survive.

China's so-called economic growth mostly based on cheap labor, highly polluted industry is not sustainable.

Cancer rate is skyrocketing. Water resource is drying up. More and more college graduates cannot find jobs.

I can go on and on ...

celia

July 8, 2008 5:59 PM

Many western media are not able to report correctly on China, maybe due to lack of knowledge and this has led many westerners to falsely believe that China is still a very poor country.

Yuan Lin

July 9, 2008 8:15 AM

It sounds you have watched what's going on in China very closely! David King!

If 'Most of riots are not reported or known by western media', how would you know 'China has multiple riots on daily basis'?? have you seen them with your own eyes? It does't require a brain to work out you won't be physically capable of seeing 'multiple riots on one day in Chna'!!

Those who 'do a straight-line projection of China's future economic growth' have facts on paper to predict AT LEAST, what DO YOU HAVE to predict the opposite?

There's simply no logical of saying 'China has been destructing its environment in order to achieve so-called economic miracle' as if were the environment been ruined, the economics will grow! Why don't you also 'destructing' your back gardern so you can get some gold out?

Yes, I admit there's some environmental side-effects with China fast development, not even mention our government IS doing a lot of things to help that issue, did you not study European history? what happened in Europe for its 'industrial revolution'? There's no exception that a country would have some 'environment issue' for its huge industrial grow? It's only Europe countries experienced it earlier than China.

It's so funny you saying 'While some urban residents become richer, many are left behind', are you telling us every Europe are EQUALLY rich or poor? Surely don't need I tell you with billionaires and millionaires in every European country, there are also beggers! You haven't even studies Marxian!

Our government supports the state-controlled banks, yes, OR maybe you prefer all your savings disappear overnight when your bank annouces bankrupt? Again, where did you get your evidences of 'Most of county-level governments are bankrupt'?? I doubt you have any.

'so-called economic growth'? you can say whatever you like but facts ARE facts, whether you're happy about it or not!Also, China can benefit from 'cheap labor' because there are countires WANT us to benefit so they can benefit from it too! Mutual benefits are the base of any trading, somehow I feel you haven't been benefiting from our 'cheap labor' too unless you buy everything made in Europe, which doesn't sound realistic nowadays.

At this stage, I think I doesn't need to talk anything about your very last critism

asian

July 9, 2008 2:44 PM

What China is doing now is actually what european had done in the past. China is moving forward. Of course, they need to minimize the impact of its industrial development has on the environments. For so many years the westerns reap the harvests that come along with the industrialization process. Now you have all the resources and think as though you are the only one to decide how people in the developing countries should live. It sounds like only China and India who contribute to the climate change. Did you DavidKing take into consideration about how your grandpa and grandma developed your country? Leave all the natural resources intact and protect the forests? Give me a break. Think who is the biggest carbon emitter in the world? And still reluctant to cut carbon emission and guess what? Just to protect the sons like you.

Guy

July 10, 2008 7:18 AM

Not a surprise and it is just a beginning.

China will be richer and richer thanks to capitalism. France will be poorer and poorer because of its socialist welfare system much like the one sponsored by communism.

People can work 35 hours a week in France and with more than 5 weeks of days-off a year, it is hard to work here. Try to call French companies in May, it's a nightmare !

Just another Guy from Seattle

July 11, 2008 10:28 PM

Definitely there are some environmental issues in China and I do hope they are addressed properly by the government. The Chinese people are very concern about their environment. China have done very well and I am not surprised a lot of Westerners are insecure about this fact. I do hope China uses this new found wealth to make the world a better place.

blowfish

July 12, 2008 10:45 PM

Olympics helped China to realise the severe Pollution problem. Is a good direction.

JiaMing

July 16, 2008 10:18 AM

Speaking as a Chinese, China having more millionaires than France or even the US is not newsworthy. The population of China is way bigger than France. What's important is the per capita GDP or income. If China someday approaches France on that, it will be a cause to celebrate.

Fuyuki

July 19, 2008 2:29 PM

China will become economically strong, so did Japan, Singapore, Korea, and Taiwan.
But culture-wise I think Asian countries are not as sophisticated culturewise as EUs and US. It does not matter who wins or what economically, but I believe each one should try to raise up the overall-satisfaction instead. If you insist the money is the life's goal, well... go for it.

Infinity and Beyond

September 28, 2008 12:48 PM

Well said JiaMing my friend. Your statement is indeed profoundly meaningful.

How much good does it do the Chinese as a whole if China has a few more millionaires than France?

Even if China has some more millionaires than France, let's not forget that China has more poor people than the total population of France.

It is evident from the fact when so many Chinese from China are still migrating to other parts of the world in search of a better life. China still has to do a lot of hard work and has a long way to go. Not until each and every Chinese is included in the envelope of prosperity can the Chinese truly deserve to feel proud of their achievements and show it to the world. So let not the people of China loose focus on the goal that still lies ahead.

By the way I am Chinese too and I thank Frederik Balfour for writing this article.

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April 25, 2009 1:28 PM

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